World War I

world war

The largest war in history – 60 to 80 million people died, including civilians. Several empires were torn apart and a new world was created.

The world’s major powers fought one another for territory, resources and their beliefs. This was a war of nationalist ideals, with countries trying to assert control over the territories they had inherited or acquired. It was also a war of ideas, between capitalism and communism.

In 1914 the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austria-Hungary throne, started the war in Europe. It would quickly expand into a global conflict as the countries with colonies, such as Australia, Canada and India, entered the fray.

On 4 October 1918 the German high command asked for an armistice and at 11 a.m. on 11 November it came into effect. Germany claimed it had been “stabbed in the back” by revolutions at home.

The end of the war resulted in the collapse of four monarchies (Czar Nicholas II of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, Emperor Charles I of Austria and Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire). Many new states were formed out of old empires. Austria-Hungary was carved into many successor states and the Russian empire gave much of its Western frontier to Poland. The war left a host of unresolved political, social and economic problems and set the stage for future conflicts. It also introduced the United States to a rival superpower, the Soviet Union, and initiated nearly half a century of skirmishes and nervous watchfulness.